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Information Services - Statistical Reports

Student Exclusions 1996 - 1997

January 20, 1998

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to issue our annual report, Student Exclusions in Massachusetts Public Schools: 1996-97. This report provides information regarding student exclusions, defined as the removal of a student from school for disciplinary reasons permanently, indefinitely or for more than ten consecutive school days. This information will be useful to the legislature, the Governor, and the Board of Education as they continue to address the issues of student discipline and school safety.

The Education Reform Act of 1993 and subsequent amendments authorize school principals, rather than school committees, to expel students who carry weapons or illegal drugs to school, assault school personnel or are convicted of a felony off school grounds. Districts are not required to provide excluded students with alternative education, with the exception of special education students who under federal law are entitled to receive alternative education if removed from school for ten days or more.

Summary of Key Findings

In the 1996-97 school year, there were 1,498 student exclusions, a slight increase from the 1,482 student exclusions in the 1995-96 school year. In 1996-97, a total of 1,446 students were excluded from school once during the school year, and 49 students were excluded more than once.

Nearly 63 percent of all students who were excluded from school were provided with alternative education, a figure virtually unchanged from the previous year, but down almost five percentage points from 1994-95. Among regular education students excluded from school, 55 percent were provided with alternative education, a slight decrease of almost three percentage points from the previous year. Of the special education students excluded from school, 89 percent were provided with alternative education, an increase of six percentage points from the prior year.

Over one-quarter of all student exclusions (27 percent) in 1996-97 involved a weapon, up from 21 percent the prior year. The percentage of student exclusions resulting from possession of an illegal substance also increased almost four percentage points, to 22 percent.

Exclusion rates varied among school districts. In 1996-97, 156 districts excluded students, an increase from 136 districts the previous year. Over half of all school districts, or 200 districts, reported no student exclusions. This is a decrease from 213 districts the prior year. There were 132 districts that reported between one and nine exclusions for the school year, up from 118 districts in 1995-96. Twenty-four districts reported ten or more student exclusions, up from 18 districts the previous year.

Safe schools are a top priority. Providing students with a safe learning environment is essential to furnishing them with an effective education. Suspending and expelling some disruptive students will strengthen the climate for learning for the students in school. Many districts do an outstanding job in providing most or all of the students they exclude with alternative education. That is a very important goal statewide. We appreciate the efforts that school districts are making to provide safe and orderly schools and to provide serious learning opportunities for all students.


Robert V. Antonucci
Commissioner of Education

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Last Updated: January 20, 1998
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